Sarah McArthur and Bethany Sinclair are serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after finishing school, using and developing French language skills as well as teaching English.
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Writing this six months into our eight month placement in Bunia, DRC, we are now very well versed in introducing ourselves and our work. Bethany and Sarah, from Scotland, teaching English (and picking up some extra stuff i.e. amateur midwifery) – that’s all you need to know, right?
Before we came to DRC we had heard a lot about culture shock. We knew it would happen, but what shocked us the most was not how different the culture was and how to adapt, but it was the love God gave us for this place. We had both felt called to DRC for this year, and we expected it to be very different from normal life back home in bonnie Scotland. We were not naïve enough to think we’d enjoy every moment of it; in fact, we were sure that we’d positively hate some bits (cockroaches…). But that was okay as that was just culture shock and this is where God had called us. We’d do our work despite the frustrations, and there would also be parts of the culture that we would love.
“God changed our hearts so that all those little things that annoyed us became things that we are by no means ready to leave. And it happened so fast! One day DRC was “alright”, the next it became our favourite place… ever.”
For the first few months Bunia lived up to expectations. We liked getting to know our neighbours and colleagues, and really disliked the motorbike taxi drivers trying to ‘get to know’ us. We loved the church choirs, but struggled to connect to the church services themselves. We enjoyed the food (well, most of it) but it was always a nice treat to have something from home. And that was okay! That was how we expected things to happen and carry on until we got home where we would miss the things we liked and rejoice at leaving the things we hadn’t.
The real shock
But then the actual shock came: we fell in love – with DRC. God changed our hearts so that all those little things that annoyed us became things that we are by no means ready to leave. And it happened so fast! One day DRC was “alright”, the next it became our favourite place… ever. Please let us stay!!
There are several experiences that showed us this change. For example, one night we broke down and had to stay in a small village by the road from Adi to Bunia. Rather than frustration and fear and exhaustion (not to mention the cold!), all we felt was immense gratitude for how we were welcomed by a widow and her family. Or when it was Bethany’s birthday and we were surprised by the entire English choir from our local church turning up at our flat and performing three songs they had written for her. Sarah went very rapidly from being relieved her birthday would be in Scotland to wishing it had been in Bunia!
These are just a couple of random examples, but it really shows that if you are considering going on Short Term mission and are worried that you won’t enjoy it, you shouldn’t. It will be amazing. And if you’re considering going on short-term mission and think it’ll be wonderful, just you wait, God will do even more than you could ever expect!